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Evaluating the Radiocarbon Reservoir Effect in Lake Kutubu, Papua New Guinea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 July 2018

Larissa Schneider*
Affiliation:
Archaeology and Natural History, School of Culture, History and Language College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
Colin F Pain
Affiliation:
MED-Soil Research Group, Departamento de Cristalografía, Mineralogía y Química Agrícola, Facultad de Química (Universidad de Sevilla), Calle Profesor García González, s/n., 41012 Sevilla, Spain
Simon Haberle
Affiliation:
Archaeology and Natural History, School of Culture, History and Language College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
Russell Blong
Affiliation:
Risk Frontiers, 100 Christie St, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia
Brent V Alloway
Affiliation:
School of Environment, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS), School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
Stewart J Fallon
Affiliation:
Radiocarbon Laboratory, Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University
Geoff Hope
Affiliation:
Archaeology and Natural History, School of Culture, History and Language College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
Atun Zawadzki
Affiliation:
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Lucas Heights, NSW 2234, Australia
Henk Heijnis
Affiliation:
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Lucas Heights, NSW 2234, Australia
*
*Corresponding author. Email: Larissa.Schneider@anu.edu.au.

Abstract

We examined the radiocarbon (14C) reservoir effect in Lake Kutubu using tephrochronology and terrestrial plant material to deliver a precise age-depth profile and sedimentation rates for this lake. Based on the presence of two tephra horizons (Tibito and Olgaboli), we found a reservoir age offset in sediments of between 1490 and 2280 14C yr using the sediment ages derived from the lead-210 (210Pb) dating method. The live submerged biological samples collected exhibited a higher reservoir age offset than the sediment. This is most likely a result of delayed transport of “bomb” 14C from the atmosphere to aquatic and sedimentary system. The 14C reservoir effect increased with distance from the lake inlet and also decreased with depth. Dissolution of 14C-depleted carbon from surrounding limestone and direct in-wash of old soil or vegetation remnants from the catchment are the most likely causes of the 14C reservoir effect. Based on limestone areas mapped in Papua New Guinea, we indicate lakes which may be subject to a significant 14C reservoir effect. The results of this study demonstrate the magnitude of the 14C reservoir effect in lakes and provide insights to the correct interpretation of past environmental and archaeological events in PNG.

Type
Research Article
Information
Radiocarbon , Volume 61 , Issue 1 , February 2019 , pp. 287 - 308
Copyright
© 2018 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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